P&C insurance brokers specializing in statutory and employee benefits may have been dismayed by the number of companies – especially in the hospitality sector – that went out of business in 2020. Insurance cancellations may have caused a loss in revenue at a time when it was harder to generate new business when you couldn’t meet with clients face to face during the pandemic.
Our proprietary Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker allows us to track and monitor details like this to help brokers retain clients and grow their book of business.
Also see: Selling NY State Disability Insurance: Getting Creative in the Time of Covid-19
However, new research shows that new business opportunities may not be as scarce as the insurance community had perceived. In fact, research from the University of Maryland economist John Haltiwanger showed that more new businesses opened in 2020 than they have at other times, Axios reported.
The Wall Street Journal reported that, during the pandemic, for every five stores that closed permanently in one Chicago neighborhood, 10 opened. While many of the new small businesses are e-commerce websites or “non-store retailers,” other sectors showing growth are restaurants, laundromats, and trucking companies, Axios reported.
Currently, five U.S. states plus Puerto Rico mandate statutory disability benefits for employees. Hawaii, New Jersey, and New York offer options to privatize these employee benefits.
Read more: Opportunities Grow for Statutory Insurance Brokers
New business owners may not be aware that every full-time and many part-time employees require short-term disability coverage in accordance with the legislation for their state – even if the employee works out-of-state.
For instance, if a Wisconsin resident works remotely as a W-2 employee (not in independent contractor) for an e-commerce site based in New Jersey, the employer would be responsible for providing statutory disability and Family Leave Insurance (FLI) benefits to that worker.
Although many digital companies opt to work with independent contractors to simplify payroll and avoid these benefits, along with gaining flexibility and scalability in their workforce, some will hire full-time employees in key roles. Chief marketing officers, content managers, web developers, and accountants often hold full-time roles in e-commerce companies.
Additionally, new brick-and-mortar business owners will need to be informed about their state’s laws for statutory disability and family leave benefits. They will need to work with insurance brokers they can trust to educate them on the laws and offer options to get white-glove, specialized service. Small business owners may not recognize the importance of ancillary benefits for recruiting and retention. In today’s tight labor market, employee benefits such as Group Life / AD&D, vision, dental, and long-term disability can set new businesses apart.
For brokers, it’s a matter of connecting with new business owners and becoming their trusted advisor when it comes to employee benefits.
Statutory insurance is unique – and can be uniquely profitable – because you are selling business owners a benefit they need. However, they may not know where to find it or how to get the lowest rates. They may not know they can bundle ancillary benefits with disability insurance for lower rates. If they have already started writing their benefits through their state, they might be unhappy with the service but unaware that they have alternatives.
The first step toward growing your book of business is to find small business owners who need your help. Local networking groups remain a key source of leads, especially now that people are attending in-person business meetings and networking events again.
Here are a few other places to uncover leads:
You can also use inbound marketing to attract new leads to you, by posting content on LinkedIn to connect with new business owners in your state.
As we recover collectively from the effects of the past year and a half, it’s time to start looking ahead. The DBL Center makes it easy for you to deliver white-glove, personalized service and the lowest rates to your clients.
Reach out to find out how we can help you grow your book of business right now.
by Dawn Allcot
As many companies went out of business in 2020 and others saw substantial revenue reductions, insurance brokers have struggled to collect payments for New York and New Jersey statutory disability insurance policies. The DBL Center is the first and only wholesale insurance broker to deliver a list of your pending cancellations and renewals directly to your inbox via our industry-first Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker app.
Every year, a handful or more of companies will push the limits of their disability insurance renewals. They know we can always backdate the policy if they pay even after cancellation. But brokers’ commissions get delayed and it can wreak havoc on cash flow.
This year could have been even worse when it comes to lost commissions and a shrinking book of business due to the pandemic. But the Broker Dashboard: Net Revenue Tracker app helps DBL Center brokers stay on top of pending cancellations for non-pay, so they can get paid faster and keep the money coming in. After all, we all know that nickels, dimes, and quarters make dollars. Every disability insurance policy your customers pay on time, before multiple cancellation notices, represents money in your pocket.
“I think the annual billing cycle that just closed has been as successful as it could have been given all the other [economic] circumstances,” said Valmaria Strobel, Vice President – DBL Underwriting for Standard Security Life Ins. Co. of NY.
She added that The DBL Center’s reminders to Standard Security brokers were instrumental in avoiding a host of non-pay cancellations. “We billed these policies at the end of 2020, and although some were slow to pay, more have paid than would have without those reminders he was sending.”
Standard Security started in the business 30 years ago with The DBL Center, led by founder David Cohen, as one of the carrier’s top wholesale insurance brokers. “If you ask me what [DBL Center President and CEO] Mike Cohen has brought to the table, it’s the technology, for sure,” Strobel said.
Every month, The DBL Center delivers a list of all policyholders, including in-force policies, renewals, pending cancellations, and cancellations to brokers’ inboxes, making it easy for brokers to track down pending cancellations to keep revenue streams flowing. “It’s hand-packaged and tied in a bow, essentially,” Strobel said.
Strobel explained that the Broker Dashboard reminders go out to brokers on the heels of Standard Security reminders. “It’s been effective in getting policy holders to pay and avoiding some unnecessary cancellations,” she says.
It’s not just carriers who love the way the Broker Dashboard keeps cash flow moving and helps prevent cancellations for non-pay.
Over the past years since The DBL Center introduced this technology, brokers have expressed gratitude for the monthly reports and easy, remote access to their entire book of business.
Calling the list of renewals and pending cancellations “very helpful,” Anthony Villani, managing director for Avanti Associates, a Pelham, NY, disability insurance broker, said. “We do a lot hand-holding with insureds on these renewal audits and are presently working on these accounts, I am pretty sure we will be saving most of them and this list facilitates our process.”
Similarly, Tom Murray, commercial lines account executive for JSM Brokerage Inc. in East Hills, NY said, “I appreciate you reaching out and letting me know about all these.” Having a list of pending cancellations and non-renewals allows brokers to focus on bill collection in a timely manner, while the Broker Dashboard tracks it all for them.
The DBL Center is the only wholesale insurance broker that provides the technology and service to help you stay on top of cancellations and improve cash flow.
Not using the Broker Dashboard yet? Watch our video and then schedule your free demo here!
by Michael Cohen
We all know 2020 presented major challenges for insurance brokers. I discussed some of these challenges with Charles Callery, Regional VP for Lincoln Financial, and Michael Pelligrino, Lincoln Financial sales representative in the video, “Getting Creative in the Time of Covid-19.”
So much has changed this year – but adapting is an important part of success.
Heading into Thanksgiving we would look forward to The DBL Center’s Annual Holiday Party the first week in December. Of course, we aren’t holding the event this year due to the pandemic.
A few months ago, I would have connected with brokers, carriers, and colleagues at our summer gathering. I’d been planning a get-together in Manhattan, instead of one of our usual Long Island venues. The location would have made it easier for those out of state to join in the fun and would have given my employees and favorite people a unique and memorable experience. (Needless to say, we had to cancel.)
We all understand that insurance is a commodity. We aren’t selling DBL or TDB or PFML, specifically. We are selling a white glove experience. Stellar customer service. State of the art technology.
Aside from reduced premium rates and better, more flexible coverage, it’s the service that sets private disability insurance apart from the state plans.
And with that service comes perks for your best customers. Holiday parties. Sporting event or concert tickets. It’s all a part of the industry and it helps us build better relationships to grow loyal customers. After all, (you’ve heard it before) it’s not what you earn, it’s what you keep.
Insurance brokers can hold meetings by phone or video. We can host virtual Zoom gatherings, and even virtual Zoom happy hours to create a more casual environment for connection. But it’s still not the same as taking your favorite customers out for drinks, meeting courtside at a Knicks game, or sharing dinner overlooking the Long Island Sound.
As a father, I’ve watched my boys struggle with virtual schooling and being unable to see their classmates since March. Fortunately, they just went back full time. But we are all counting the days, knowing nothing is permanent as Long Island communities around us shift to “Yellow” status and… who knows what happens after that?
The teachers try their hardest to deliver a quality education online. But they are missing that personal connection. A hand on a shoulder. The nuances of facial expressions. Easy, convenient interaction without lag or household distractions.
Insurance brokers, right now, face the same challenges as teachers in forging a personal connection with our customers. And, in the world of consultative selling, we do act as educators for our customers, imparting the information they need to make the best decisions for their businesses.
So what can we do to create personal connections when we can’t meet face-to-face?
Things are different right now. And not in a good way. But we have to keep going, just as teachers have done, to do our jobs and build success.
If you haven’t already done so, the pandemic is a good time to establish a strong digital marketing campaign. It’s more important than ever to deliver value to our customers and the business owners in our region.
Leverage email – Send touch-base emails more frequently than usual to stay front-of-mind. Mass emails that share helpful tips and information, as well as personalized emails to foster connections, are quick, easy, and effective to stay in touch with your customers.
Email generates $38 of revenue for every $1 spent, according to a Hubspot survey. Nearly 4 billion people use email daily. And 35% of online marketers send their customers 3 to 5 emails per week. So don’t worry about reaching out too often. You don’t want to be forgotten amidst all the other distractions your customers face every day.
Pick up the phone – As early as April 2020, just a month into the pandemic, workers started suffering from Zoom fatigue, which occurs due to the exhaustion of constant visual engagement forced by video calls. Instead of taking the extra time and energy to schedule a call and email the other party a conference link, pick up the phone for an old-fashioned voice conversation.
This impromptu, casual conference can help create a better rapport, offering more time and energy for personal conversation. You might find a phone call is more efficient and, ironically, more personal and heartfelt, than a Zoom call initiated for the sole purpose of conducting specific business.
Of course, arm yourself with the latest industry news to help customers understand how claims have changed in the time of Covid. As much as the personal connection, business owners will appreciate this type of valuable information and will rely on you as a trusted resource – which can result in future sales and upsells.
Plan for the future – We won’t always be on lockdown. The pandemic will end someday, especially with news of a vaccine on the horizon.
Whether you’re on Zoom calls, the phone, or via email or social media, engage your customers with positive thinking and something to look forward to. Start talking about future plans for traveling when the pandemic ends. Even if you’re joking about putting meetings on the calendar for late 2021, you’re helping your customers see a light at the end of the tunnel.
This summer, as stores and restaurants started re-opening under strict guidelines, I kept saying, “Stop talking about a second wave.” I’m still saying it. Be realistic, but think positively, too. It’s all we’ve got right now as a community.
Are these virtual connections enough to keep customers and grow your book of business? Time will tell. What’s working for you? Drop me a line and let me know your thoughts.
Prior to the introduction of the MA Paid Family Medical Leave Act, Massachusetts workers relied on group short-term disability plans to cover partial income replacement for a non-work-related illness or injury.
With MA PFMLA benefits set to go into effect on January 1, 2021, (and additional benefits under the act to begin July 1, 2021), employers may wonder how this affects the need for group STD benefits within an organization.
Should employers and employees still invest in voluntary group short-term disability benefits?
What’s the difference between Group STD vs. PFMLA in Massachusetts?
MA PFML is a statutory benefit that all employers in Massachusetts with more than 25 employees must provide. It is similar to Paid Family Leave in New York, which is written as a rider to DBL coverage. The Massachusetts law adds a medical component to combine medical disability coverage with family leave benefits.
Employers can write their benefits plan through the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or opt for a private plan that:
Costs will typically be shared between the employer and employee, although the employer may opt to fund more than their minimum percentage.
On the other hand, short term disability or Group STD is a voluntary benefit that can be funded by the employer or employees or shared between the two.
Group short term disability coverage typically lasts until group long-term disability benefits (most commonly called “disability income,” or DI) begin. Your customers should know that MA Paid Family Medical Leave Act benefits offset disability insurance coverage; premiums may be lower for a group STD plan in Massachusetts since the MA PFML plan covers partial income replacement.
In New York, employers have the option to enrich DBL coverage to pay out more than the state maximum benefit. In Massachusetts, a group STD plan can fill this role. The MA Paid Family Medical Leave Act has a maximum weekly benefit cap of $850, which means that high-earners making more than $80,000 will receive a lower percentage of their income than others who are not maxing out the benefit.
As the owner of a Massachusetts business or a c-level executive or human resources director, investing in STD coverage for your employees can also benefit you should you become ill, injured, or unable to work.
In 2021, the MA Paid Family Medical Leave Act pays workers for up to 20 weeks of personal medical leave. However, if the worker already filed a claim for family leave or personal leave within the past calendar year, they may not be able to collect for the full 20 weeks this time around.
On the other hand, employees can collect STD income replacement for up to 26 weeks, regardless of other, unrelated leave.
Long-term disability insurance typically goes into effect 26 weeks after an employee becomes disabled. Short-term disability can provide income replacement for those six weeks (or more), when PFML runs out and before LTD kicks in.
Having financial peace-of-mind with income replacement can reduce stress on the employee and improve retention rates within a company. Combining PFML with Group STD and the best long-term disability insurance , plus ancillary benefits like dental, vision, and Group Life AD&D can help set a Massachusetts business apart. Being able to describe and explain these benefits to business owners can help Massachusetts brokers thrive in any economy.
It’s important to reiterate, as well, that PFML and other state paid family and medical leave programs are not the same as the MA Paid Family Medical Leave Act. FMLA only provides job protection, not income replacement. Additionally, some of the requirements and definition of a family member in Massachusetts may differ from the federal legislation. However, since FMLA in Massachusetts covers both partial income replacement and job protection, a Massachusetts employee should be able to take the necessary time off and know they will have a similar job description, position, and salary when they return to work.
View our glossary of short-term disability coverage here for more information on various benefits and protected leave in different states.
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, business owners in New York and New Jersey may be wondering if short-term disability insurance will cover their absence from work if they are diagnosed with the virus and must stay home from work.
They might also wonder if they can make a disability claim if they have not been diagnosed with the virus but were placed under a precautionary quarantine.
Finally, with schools closing across the country, they might wonder if they can make a Paid Family Leave (PFL) claim to stay home and care for school-age children if they don’t have other childcare arrangements.
These are dilemmas many Americans are facing today. DBL Center is working hard to provide our brokers with the answers they need to give their clients’ guidance about what does, and what does not, constitute a short-term disability claim when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic.
The policies of our carriers do vary, but you can always reach out to one of our team if you or your clients have urgent questions. You can reach us 24/7 through the new chat feature on our website and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
In short, a coronavirus diagnosis or a quarantine related to the pandemic does not constitute automatic approval of a short-term disability claim in New York or New Jersey. Some policies from certain carriers, however, may carry quarantine provisions.
Short-term and long-term disability policies typically do not include treatment for a cold or the flu under short-term disability coverage. If an employee is sick and unable to work due to COVID-19, these claims will be determined on a case by case basis, depending on the severity and length of the illness. In some situations, cases requiring hospitalization may qualify for short-term disability in New York and New Jersey.
Claims submitted with a diagnosis of Coronavirus will be evaluated based on all applicable contract provisions. The insured will need to provide proof that they are under the care of a Health Care Provider that can certify the disability and unable to perform their job duties either in the work place or at home via remote access.
Similarly, covered employees cannot make PFL claims to care for children over a year old who are home from school because the school closed as a precautionary measure. Since the virus doesn’t seem to be affecting children severely, it would be unusual for a parent or guardian to require a PFL claim to care for a child who is ill from the virus, unless the child is immune compromised. Again, that would be decided on a individual basis depending on the length and severity of the illness, as with any cold or the flu.
DBL Center understands that, at this time, many of our brokers may be working from home to limit the spread of the virus. Here at DBL Center, we will remain open and are doing everything to maintain the clean and sanitary conditions or our workplace and protect our employees.
Fortunately, DBL Center is also set up to work remotely. We have employees in New York and New Jersey offices who frequently connect virtually, and our cloud-based systems transition well to a work-at-home environment.
Our brokers can even Bind DBL Over 50 lives right from any internet-enabled computer, whether at home or in the office. Our exclusive broker Dashboard gives our brokers access to all their policies and preferred carriers from any internet-enabled device, as well.
Throughout the pandemic and after, the DBL Center will continue to be your back-office staff, answer any questions related to disability coverage and the coronavirus pandemic, and help you bind DBL policies from home.
Massachusetts becomes the fourth state in the Northeast to mandate benefits under a paid family and medical leave act
DBL Center is ready to offer Massachusetts insurance brokers incredible savings on PFML plans under the new Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act.
The MA Paid Family and Medical Leave Act applies to individuals who need time off:
• Due to a serious health condition
• To care for a newborn, newly adopted, or new foster child within the first year of the event
• To care for family while a spouse is deployed in the Armed Forces
• To care for a family member of any age with a serious health condition
Help Your Customers Privatize Massachusetts Family and Medical Leave Act Coverage
As in New York and New Jersey, states which have offered short-term disability and paid family leave for several years, business owners in Massachusetts have the option to privatize their FMLA policies for substantial cost reductions.
By law, private FMLA plans must offer benefits of the same amount and duration – or better – than plans underwritten and paid for by the state. That’s why it’s important for business owners to find a source they can trust to write their family and medical leave act coverage in Massachusetts. And that’s where DBL Center insurance brokers come in, offering stellar customer service and lower premiums thanks to the relationships their wholesale general agency has developed over five decades.
Bundle PFML to Save Even More
PFML is a stand-alone benefit, but not every carrier can write PFML as a stand-alone policy. DBL Center has the industry connections and the volume to help Massachusetts insurance brokers get the best deals for their customers.
DBL Center delivers white-glove service, low premiums, and superior benefits packages. Your clients can save even more by bundling FMLA coverage with group ancillary benefits like dental, vision, and group life / AD&D.
DBL Center Enhances Focus on Customer Service and Technology
As testament to the company’s dedication to customer service and education, DBL Center recently launched a Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act Resource Center on its website.
DBL Center also recently introduced 24/7 live chat on its website. Simply type in the chat box and a knowledgeable representative will answer your questions about the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Act, short- or long-term disability insurance, and group ancillary benefits.
“Massachusetts in the fourth state in our region to introduce paid family leave. As experts in short-term disability and paid family leave in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, DBL Center is poised to become the number one source for brokers to privatize PFML in Massachusetts for their customers,” says DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen. “We’re looking forward to the profit potential the Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical Leave Act presents to our brokers.”
View the full Broker Dashboard video here.
DBL Center’s proprietary Broker Dashboard app enables DBL Center’s New York-based brokers to track renewals, cancellations, revenue, and commissions on NYS DBL policies with a click.
With 250 brokers now using the Broker Dashboard, and interest from insurance carriers to partner and expand the capabilities of the cloud-based software, DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen took a few minutes in his Melville, NY office to explore the history, present, and future of Broker Dashboard. He also hinted at even more advanced technology for brokers and insurance carriers on the horizon.
Where did the Broker Dashboard concept come from?
The broker dashboard evolved mainly from my father, David, Cohen, who was the founder of DBL Center. He always shared two mantras with me: “Nickels, dimes and quarters make dollars,” and “It’s not what you earn, it’s what you keep.”
After he passed away nearly two years ago, I decided to look at his tracking mechanisms with his old-school number two pencil and general ledger, take that ideology, and convert it into our own proprietary digital management system. That ultimately evolved into our broker dashboard, which we’re making available to all our sub agents across New York State.
How has the Broker Dashboard helped DBL Center?
It’s helped us in two ways. The first way has been the growth aspect of it. If I go into a broker’s office who is using the Broker Dashboard, their immediate question to me is, “Why don’t I see exhibit A or this specific policy?”
The answer is: “Well, that’s because it’s not an account we service. But if you’d like us to service that account, you can roll it over. We’ll become the servicing general agent. And you’ll then see it under your broker dashboard.”
The second way has been in helping our brokers to keep accounts and monitor their retention, which results in preserving profits for everyone, including the carriers where we are acting as not only a servicing general agent but a bill collector. Every two weeks we send out a reminder email to track their retention, so they can realize what they’re keeping. This goes back to one of my father’s mantras: “It’s not what you earn, it’s what you keep.”
In what other ways has the Broker Dashboard helped your brokers?
Tracking all their commissions. We are in a nickels and dimes business, and Paid Family Leave has emphasized that point. The Broker Dashboard helps brokers understand the status of all their policies and determines whether a policy is active or cancelled. I’m staying one step ahead of the insurance carriers by letting our brokers know their clients’ status so they can stay on top of non-pays.
Sometimes, if you lose a DBL policy, you might ultimately lose a workers’ comp policy or a major medical policy. I’m all about helping our brokers retain their book of business through us. We have thousands of brokers and we currently insure 1.7 million lives.
How many sub-producers are currently using the Broker Dashboard?
Two hundred and fifty brokers are currently using the app. It can be three users per agency, and if they want more than that we unlock it and for a nominal fee, they can have up to 50 users. But the average right now has been between three and five users per agency.
What response have you gotten from the insurance carriers about the Broker Dashboard?
Two carriers, specifically, showed interest in wanting to partner with us through doing some technological advancements to the Broker Dashboard. Those talks evolved into a software company my business partner and I started called Net Revenue Tracker (NRT).
If anybody wants to learn more about NRT, we will do a future video and blog post about how NRT works to track retention and revenue through cloud-based software.
President and CEO Michael Cohen invites top brokers to celebrate recent successes and a bright future
Long Island, home of DBL Center’s corporate office, is rich with history many residents take for granted.
Oheka Castle in Cold Spring Harbor, for instance, celebrated 100 years in 2019.
It’s been 100 years since the original owner, Otto Kahn, paid to truck dirt to the North Shore to create the highest point of Long Island. From that vantage point, he built a golf course and luxurious castle in the style of a French Chateau on Long Island’s Gold Coast.
DBL Center’s Michael Cohen chose the site for his 2019 Broker Appreciation event. The exclusive cocktail party recognized top insurance brokers, introduced DBL Center customers to the new Broker Dashboard app, and celebrated a beautiful (and long-awaited) spring day on Long Island’s North Shore.
DBL Center, like Oheka Castle, is a Long Island success story, making the location especially suitable to celebrate the success of the insurance wholesaler, now in its 43rd year, and its growing network of insurance brokers.
With the sun shining and temperatures in the 70s, the event was held outdoors on a spacious terrace adjacent to the castle’s restaurant and bar. Although largely focused on Long Island insurance agents, brokers came from as far as Westchester to enjoy the ambiance, eat and drink together.
Local artist John Herz, recently featured in Newsday, displayed his artwork, including striking full-color depictions of big cats from his African safari and numerous framed prints.
At the centerpiece of his display was a pencil drawing of DBL Center Founder David Cohen, who once called Herz “the Michelangelo of the Number Two Pencil.”
Several attendees commented that the senior Cohen was looking over the event with pride at how much his son, Michael Cohen, has evolved and advanced the family-owned business in just a few short years.
The event included long-time DBL Center brokers and newcomers to the DBL Center family. Some had passing familiarity with the new Broker Dashboard app, while others had been using it for several months to streamline managing DBL accounts.
This was not a lunch-and-learn event or a seminar. The emphasis was on networking and celebration. “I considered doing a Broker Dashboard demo, but that would have meant holding the event inside,” Michael Cohen said. “Instead, we can be outdoors enjoying the weather and the scenery. This is really just an event to appreciate my brokers and say thank you for their support and loyalty.”
“This is probably the best insurance event I’ve been to in a while. Mike always takes care of his customers and their clients, and his knowledge of the business is amazing,” said Marc Salerno, a long-time client of DBL Center and account executive for Salerno Brokerage Corp in Syosset. “I feel very appreciated.”
Many other brokers echoed Salerno’s sentiments regarding the service the DBL Center team provides, making the event one of mutual appreciation.
“The DBL Center is second-to-none when it comes to the services they provide,” said Jason Cavallo of The Hotaling Group, a New York-based independent insurance firm with a national presence. “They assist in ways no other company could ever match, let alone surpass. They’re the best.”
Brokers new to the DBL Center family also touted the advantages of working with the insurance wholesaler to streamline operations and get the most out of DBL and PFL policies.
“As a property & casualty broker, billing the DBL and PFL policies is cumbersome, and it’s a smaller line-item. It’s helpful to have an expert who wants to get in the weeds with us and make sure that whole process is streamlined,” said Matt Avellino from AC Risk Management in Melville, NY. “We believe in the team, we believe in the staff, and we’re off to a great start in the beginning of this soon-to-be longstanding relationship with Michael and DBL Center.”
While this event was focused on brokers in Nassau and Suffolk counties, The DBL Center hosts quarterly events across the New York tri-state area, including celebrations at prestigious New York City venues. “We’ve gotten great feedback about this event,” said Cohen. “Our next one will be held this summer in New Jersey as we increase our focus on TDB.”
Jason Cavallo of The Hotaling Group and DBL Center’s Michael Cohen
(l-r) Donna Cody, Avanti Associates; Lori Rose, DBL Center; Marc Salerno, Salerno Insurance; Annette Sperandio, DBL Center; Thomas Tubridy, Principal Life Insurance; Chris Metzger, Blair Insurance Agency
By David Clausen, Coastal Insurance
If you’re like most P&C brokers, NYS DBL and NJ TDB insurance aren’t your only niches. Most brokers sell a variety of lines, whether it’s healthcare, business insurance, or personal lines of coverage like home insurance.
But you may not be thinking of ways to cross-sell your lines to expand your book of business and increase your commissions without cold calls or prospecting for new clients.
When you get in the habit of consultative selling, which includes getting to know your customers, their businesses, and additional insurance needs they may have, you’ll discover avenues to increased profits.
Mandatory coverage like workers’ compensation and NYS DBL coverage, along with enriched DBL, provide excellent upsell opportunities. Many business owners don’t realize they need this coverage even if they only have a few employees. Even if they know about statutory DBL coverage, they may not recognize the opportunities available with enriched DBL and ancillary benefits.
As their trusted insurance broker, you can help make sure they are protected from nearly any contingency. Chances are, you are already taking some of these steps. But are you closing the deal?
These tips, garnered from years of experience selling home insurance and other personal and business lines to Long Island-based customers, can help you expand your book of business.
1. Look for opportunities to upsell complementary insurance lines by getting to know your customers.
In Coastal’s niche market of home insurance for high-net-worth homeowners, many of our best clients also own their own businesses. This means they need workers’ compensation insurance and statutory disability coverage in New York State.
Ask your customers, “Who is currently writing your statutory DBL coverage?” to uncover opportunities.
With the introduction of Paid Family Leave as a rider to DBL, they might be looking to shop their policy around, since some carriers have stopped providing DBL.
2. Don’t forget about your customers who hire domestic employees.
Most Coastal customers who aren’t business owners are c-level executives, celebrities, and other high-net-worth individuals who may hire domestic employees to help run their households. A lot of people don’t know that workers’ compensation and NYS DBL coverage is mandatory in New York for full-time domestic employees or for domestic employees who live in your home, even if they don’t work a full 40-hour week.
This includes nannies, au pairs, housekeepers, gardeners, chefs, drivers, personal assistants, and anyone else who works for an individual. Even if people may treat their nannies or housekeepers like family, the State of New York classifies them as domestic workers or residence employees – and they need to be insured as such.
There can be hefty fines for failing to provide the proper insurance coverage for domestic workers, not to mention the liability if an employee gets hurts on the job. Brokers are doing a service to their customers by letting them know what employee coverage is required.
As with any job, providing ancillary benefits to domestic workers can also help improve retention rates and reduce sick time.
3. Discuss the potential for ancillary benefits.
Whether your customers are business owners seeking to hire the best employees, or individuals with a team of domestic help, they may not have considered ancillary benefits as a low-cost way to recruit and retain employees.
Benefits like Group Life, vision, and dental coverage are still highly sought after by workers. In a Harvard Business Review study, 88 percent of employees said they would consider accepting a job with a lower salary if the position had better health, dental, and vision benefits than the job with the higher pay.
Explore these possibilities with your customers, and they will look to you as a trusted business resource rather than just someone selling insurance products.
4. Educate your customers about enriched DBL.
NYS DBL coverage provides a bare minimum to help an employee who is ill or injured (while not on the job). DBL pays out just 50 percent of an employee’s salary up to $170 per week for 26 weeks.
Enriched DBL is a powerful retention tool for middle managers who exceed the maximum payout but may not have private disability insurance or a savings account to help get them through a medical emergency.
With the introduction of Paid Family Leave as a rider to DBL coverage in New York, many employers are looking to enrich DBL benefits in order to provide coverage comparable to PFL for employees who don’t have, or plan to have, families or may want a robust benefits package for themselves.
PFL was the big news in the insurance industry in 2018, but many people still aren’t aware of the policy changes. Stay on the forefront, educate your customers, and they will trust you to write their policies for personal and business insurance.
5. Offer the best rates by bundling coverage.
When you take advantage of The DBL Center’s carrier relationships, you can bundle lines to provide your customers with the best rates for DBL, ancillary benefits, and more.
Why would they go to any other broker if you’ve positioned yourself as a one-stop-shop for their business and personal lines of insurance coverage?
Top New York insurance wholesaler announces the acquisition of DBL Advantage Etc. Ltd
Effectively immediately on January 1, 2019, the DBL Center Ltd. has acquired DBL Advantage Etc. Ltd., a New York-based licensed General Agency specializing in NYS DBL, Paid Family Leave, NJ TDB and group ancillary benefits. The synergy between the two company’s insurance lines, as well as the mutual carriers and industry partnerships developed by both firms over several decades, made the acquisition the next logical step in The DBL Center’s growth.
DBL Center: Celebrating a Rich History and a Strong Future
The DBL Center was founded in 1976 by David J. Cohen. Now under the guidance and leadership of Michael Cohen, the company is one of the largest insurance wholesalers in the New York Tri-state area. In 2014, The DBL Center Ltd. acquired Combined DBL, a Long Island-based General Agency, to expand its ability to serve customers in the NJ TDB, NYS DBL, and group ancillary markets.
In addition to these noteworthy acquisitions, the past decade has brought unprecedented growth, market expansion, and new technologies to the company. The acquisition of DBL Advantage is a testament to, and a direct result of, DBL Center’s rapid expansion and market position.
How the Acquisition Will Affect NJ TDB and NYS DBL Brokers
Expanding The DBL Center’s market share and increasing the general agency’s leverage in the marketplace, the acquisition provides outstanding benefits to new and existing DBL Center brokers. The acquisition promises to strengthen the position of The DBL Center and its brokers in the statutory disability, PFL, NJTDB, and group ancillary markets, resulting in lower rates, higher commissions, and more options.
“The combination of premium between DBL Advantage and the DBL Center enables the DBL Center to provide brokers with higher compensation on new DBL and PFL business placed after the first of the year and moving on through 2019,” says DBL Center President and CEO Michael Cohen.
“New brokers that came to us as part of the acquisition will enjoy additional office staff to answer all their questions and to provide the full, white-glove back-office support DBL Center is known for,” Cohen says. “With generous commissions, multi-line discounts, and the most advanced technology available to P&C brokers, we have no doubt that our newest customers will view the acquisition as a favorable transition, and we welcome DBL Advantage brokers to the DBL Center family.”
White-Glove Support and the Latest Technology
The DBL Center will provide new customers with a designated account manager for over- and under-50 employee cases, as well as sales representatives to assist in the cross-selling of ancillary product lines.
“Working with DBL Center, brokers will discover multiple ways to round out their book of business and earn additional compensation through the sale of Group Life / AD&D coverage, group long-term disability, dental, and vision benefits,” Cohen says.
In addition, new brokers will gain free access to the DBL Center’s proprietary Broker Dashboard, a cloud-based app that enables brokers to track accounts and renewals, receive monthly reports on cancellations and reinstatements, and receive an earnings report on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis.
With the white-glove service brokers have come to expect for more than 40 years, along with the latest technology and innovative solutions to the challenges today’s NJ TDB and NYS DBL brokers face, DBL Center is ready to move to the next phase of growth.
“To say we are excited about the future is an understatement,” Cohen says. “As the NYS DBL and NJ TDB markets change and evolve, The DBL Center keeps pace, providing our brokers with all the support they need to thrive.”